LED H4 bulbs are close to reaching focus-parity with halogen in reflector headlights.

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Why not just use an LED that is exactly the same size and shape as a regular bulb?

As Stern explains: “Longitudinal position of the light source (where the light source starts and ends, as measured from the base plane of the bulb) is only one critical aspect.” But it’s not the only thing that matters. “Others include shape, size, orientation, and luminance distribution. Getting one out of five right is better than zero out of five, but it’s still 20 percent, a badly failing grade.”

“If we could wave a magic wand and come up with a cylindrical LED emitter of the same dimensions as a filament, with the necessary luminance and flux, then the incompatibility would vanish. That is not technically possible for the foreseeable future, so we have basically two-dimensional flat LEDs in place of a three-dimensional cylindrical filament.”

“There is significant space between the two back-to-back flat LEDs (there has to be, otherwise no material to carry away their heat), so now our light source is radically different from a filament in shape, size, position, and light distribution even if we’ve taken great care to put the emitters at exactly the same longitudinal position as the original filaments.”

...LEDs in housings designed for halogen bulb replacements put the wrong amount of light in the wrong places...

Will LED Headlights Ever Be A Worthy Upgrade For More Cars In The Future?

“There are technical working groups worldwide (SAE in America, GTB in Europe/Asia) actively working to develop a technical standard for LED retrofit bulbs to replace halogen bulbs in headlamps, fog lamps, and other such,” Stern told me, as member of such groups himself.

As for the current state of technology, Stern says: “Unlike ‘HID kits’ where there is no possibility of optical compatibility, that possibility does theoretically exist with LEDs. The products presently on the market are not close to acceptable; there are still some very substantial technical hurdles to overcome... but eventually, there will be legitimate products of this kind.”

“It’s hard to wait (believe me, I know!) but the ones on the market now just don’t cut it, no matter whose name is on the box and what promises and claims are made.”
 

MrPlow

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I wonder if they have actually tested and analyzed the latest highly-rated LED models?

Experts can talk all they want, and be correct in theory, but if the results show otherwise, then they may need to take a closer look at the results themselves. Of the problem with dead spots, this is overcome by the overlap of the two units when leveled just right. At least according to the reviewers. It would be interesting to see if they agree that the results are acceptable, and what the reason may be.
 
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That system MIGHT work, I'll need to do some investigation. The mounting of the lamp itself looks like it will go, and the critical filament position should be the same. The rest of those items, including the connector itself would need to be OUTSIDE of the lamp enclosure. Not too big of a deal as long as the wiring reaches. There is some space behind the mounting plane for wiring, but on a motorcycle it gets kinda crowded back there.
 

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I wonder if they have actually tested and analyzed the latest highly-rated LED models?

Experts can talk all they want, and be correct in theory, but if the results show otherwise, then they may need to take a closer look at the results themselves. Of the problem with dead spots, this is overcome by the overlap of the two units when leveled just right. At least according to the reviewers. It would be interesting to see if they agree that the results are acceptable, and what the reason may be.
The only results that matter are compliance with FMVSS 108.
 
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Experts can talk all they want, and be correct in theory, but if the results show otherwise, then they may need to take a closer look at the results themselves.

Please show us the photometric data, generated from a goniophotometer and following SAE protocols, proving that these new LED bulbs generate a beam pattern that is compliant with FMVSS 108. Just because they have a sharp cutoff does not rule out the possibility of excessive glare.

People hawking LED bulbs can talk all they want about how great their bulbs are, but they need to provide credible scientific proof, using credible methodology. The SAE provides credible protocols for testing headlamps. Shining the light on a warehouse wall is not a credible protocol.

 

MrPlow

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First of all, I am not promoting people use LED bulbs. This thread is about how close the tech is getting to a point where it might be viable.

LED bulbs in halogen housing have many uses outside of road-legal applications. Many ATV riders use LED bulbs off-road for better visibility. In such a case, regulations for road glare and road sign illumination don't apply. Even if they technically do apply, in practice, they really don't.

It would be nice if someone, hopefully an expert, could show actual, pertinent data and tests on the latest generation of bulbs.

Please stay on topic, which the topic being the advancement of LED bulbs as a viable alternative, with one aspect becoming closer in parity to halogen bulbs, and that is the location of the low and high-beam emitters. MANY LED headlight systems of various designs meet DOT standards for headlights even though they project a higher Lux. I would argue that having a high-end bright LED system, which has been carefully aimed, is far superior to someone with a traditional sealed-beam headlight that is not properly aimed, which is quite a high percentage in my state.
 

MrPlow

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Please show us the photometric data, generated from a goniophotometer and following SAE protocols, proving that these new LED bulbs generate a beam pattern that is compliant with FMVSS 108. Just because they have a sharp cutoff does not rule out the possibility of excessive glare.

People hawking LED bulbs can talk all they want about how great their bulbs are, but they need to provide credible scientific proof, using credible methodology. The SAE provides credible protocols for testing headlamps. Shining the light on a warehouse wall is not a credible protocol.

My post was not being rhetorical. ;) I would genuinely like to know how these bulbs pass or fail official testing protocols, whatever those may be. Blanket statements by experts without any supporting data on specific models of bulbs and housings, is not a very scientific level of conduct. The results seem to be impressive on a preliminary aspect of both taking test shots of the beam patterns and in real-world use where once properly aimed, the user does not get flashed ever by other drivers. The suggestion is that they might be viable for passing official testing, so lets see the official testing. I think the largest complication for testing though, is the fact that any LED can pretty much be placed in any housing if both designed for the same halogen specs. There are so many combos, that coming to any concrete conclusion that covers all conversions would be impossible. Which is probably why the government doesn't like people messing with their headlights. :D

For the tech to advance, we need both companies that push innovation and those who test the innovation to make sure it is headed in the right direction. LED manufacturers have been working hard on addressing the main point of concern about light focus being off due to poor emitter placement. New models come out just about every couple of months. An expert who tested models from 5 years ago can't apply those exact findings to new models today with 100% confidence.
 
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If LED bulbs are ever approved for use in halogen headlight housings, I suspect what will be approved is a specific model of LED bulb in a specific halogen headlight housing.

There won't be a generic, one-fits-all LED bulb that will be approved as a replacement for all halogen headlight housings where it could physically fit.
 

MrPlow

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If LED bulbs are ever approved for use in halogen headlight housings, I suspect what will be approved is a specific model of LED bulb in a specific halogen headlight housing.

There won't be a generic, one-fits-all LED bulb that will be approved as a replacement for all halogen headlight housings where it could physically fit.
I agree 100%.

Even if the LED was at perfect parity with a halogen bulb, and even looked identical housed in glass, with tinted ends, etc, but if it produces too much light compared to even the best halogen, then it may still fail standardized testing. I would imagine if a housing that is close enough to pass with a halogen bulb in the category but is still a bad design or has too much copy variation and is just under the threshold for glare to other drivers, then adding more light would fail such a test no matter any other aspect of the light and bulb.

Ultimately, if someone wants to go LED in their vehicle, the only viable, road-legal options at this time are the DOT specced (I don't think they are actually tested, just have to meet specs) complete LED light units with heating elements for cold weather. But, that's expensive as heck, and at least for the BITOG crowd that jumps all over saving 50 cents on an oil filter for a $30,000 car, spending $600+ for headlights might be a tough sell. LOL :D
 
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Yeah, but those are worth more than my truck! Especially the heated ones.
How much is your life/health worth? If you strike something at speed at night because you couldn't see it due to inadequate headlights, damage to your truck would be the least of your worries. And even if you hit something and don't incur physical injury, you'd still need to pay to repair or replace the truck.
Headlights are safety equipment, that's why they're heavily regulated.

I plan on first doing a relay harness upgrade, which should net me an extra 2 volts by bypassing the high resistance wiring. From there, I will install halogen reflector units. That should be sufficient for more light output, just to be equal to other vehicles. From there I can play around with LED bulbs, etc.. and also quick swap for driving in the snow.
2 volts is quite significant. Definitely look into installing proper wiring. And the condition of the headlights (lenses and reflectors) themselves matters as well.
 

MrPlow

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2 volts is quite significant. Definitely look into installing proper wiring. And the condition of the headlights (lenses and reflectors) themselves matters as well.
Yes, it is pretty bad in the old Toyota pickups. I think the current goes through like 18 feet of small-gauge wiring or something stupid like that. Old Jeeps have the same issue, especially once the switches in the steering column get worn and arced too many times.

Usually people get around a 1 volt increase by going to relays, but mine is super worn out and is probably closer to 2 volts at idle.

I plan on not only using a relay harness, but also using TWO of them in parallel for added safety. I will take the cost of having a higher chance of some sort of failure, yet only on one light at a time, vs a rarer chance of 100% failure on both at the same time. I'm guessing that even with the sealed beams in there now, I will get at least 30% more light just from going to the relay harness.

From there, I can upgrade to an H4 reflector system (Hella DOT or Rampage DOT) with halogen bulbs and should be way better off than I am now, without paying crazy money for LED lights that won't blind other drivers or freeze in the snow.

I can just imagine paying $600 for good LED heated lights and then having a rock crack one a week later. Judging by my windshield and front of the truck, there are a lot of rocks flying around these parts due to people living on long gravel driveways that empty directly onto high-speed roads. Tires turn into rock bazookas for a few miles. LOL :)
 
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MANY LED headlight systems of various designs meet DOT standards for headlights even though they project a higher Lux.
You mean like the OEM LED headlights on many newer vehicles? Yes, they're compliant because the headlight reflectors and/or lenses were engineered from the ground up to work with LED light sources. They're not halogen headlights with LED bulbs inside them.
Additionally, the manufacturer submits their headlights for compliance testing - if they didn't, they'd risk getting in trouble with NHTSA.
 

MrPlow

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You mean like the OEM LED headlights on many newer vehicles? Yes, they're compliant because the headlight reflectors and/or lenses were engineered from the ground up to work with LED light sources. They're not halogen headlights with LED bulbs inside them.
Additionally, the manufacturer submits their headlights for compliance testing - if they didn't, they'd risk getting in trouble with NHTSA.
Yes, and there are also aftermarket systems from JW Speaker and Truck-lite which are also DOT compliant. Those are complete units, not LED bulbs in halogen housings. Sorry for the poor clarification on my part.

Someone with an h6054 sealed beam unit can swap in a Truck-lite unit with no modifications, even for double ground systems vs. double positive system, as the truck-lites are not polarity sensitive. Besides re-aiming the beams, it is all plug and play and ~100% legit.
 
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If LED bulbs are ever approved for use in halogen headlight housings, I suspect what will be approved is a specific model of LED bulb in a specific halogen headlight housing.
A bulb that only works correctly in one particular standardized replaceable bulb headlight assembly would never get approved (i.e. be legal), because it defeats the very purpose of having a standardized replaceable bulb!
Imagine if your H4 headlight bulb blew out on your car and you went to buy a replacement, but had to get a specific H4 brand and type, because that's the only one that works correctly in your H4 headlight assembly. Or you could use another brand and type, but with shimming and tweaking to get the beam pattern to look right.
Doesn't that defeat the purpose of having a standardized bulb (H4)?

A bulb that is meant for one type of headlamp assembly, must work correctly in all headlamps of the type for which it is designed, else it's an automatic compliance fail.
 

MrPlow

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A bulb that only works correctly in one particular standardized replaceable bulb headlight assembly would never get approved (i.e. be legal), because it defeats the very purpose of having a standardized replaceable bulb!
Imagine if your H4 headlight bulb blew out on your car and you went to buy a replacement, but had to get a specific H4 brand and type, because that's the only one that works correctly in your H4 headlight assembly. Or you could use another brand and type, but with shimming and tweaking to get the beam pattern to look right.
Doesn't that defeat the purpose of having a standardized bulb (H4)?

A bulb that is meant for one type of headlamp assembly, must work correctly in all headlamps of the type for which it is designed, else it's an automatic compliance fail.
I disagree to a point. If there is a standard for LED bulbs to all match that certain standard, then it only comes down to the housing being different. There is a huge amount of variation in halogen reflector housings in terms of beam pattern (within DOT/E-type standards of course). I would think that the only aspect that would make a poorly built, but still compliant housing using halogen fail with LED, would be the brightness and color.

If LED bulbs could reach perfect parity with halogen and that is set as a certified standard the manufacturer can claim, then it's only a matter of declaring which housings work for that standard and to what degree of lumen output increase from the LED bulb. That's still a huge task and likely impossible in practice though.

Ultimately, the best solution might be the reduced cost of complete LED units, including the housing. The LED bulbs are popular mostly because they are a cheap and easy upgrade in the minds of buyers. Even the cheapest DOT compliant LED units on Amazon and Ebay are still $80 or more for two units, where as LED bulbs are $40-50 for half-way decent ones.
 
While there still might be some light loss in certain areas of the beam pattern, there is no added percentage of light in areas where there should not be any added glare for oncoming drivers.
There's a flaw in your logic.

- For an LED "bulb" to be an upgrade for a halogen bulb it has to put out more light.
- If it puts out more light then some of that extra light is going to go into to dimmer area above the cut-off which is going to result in extra glare for oncoming drivers. This is exacerbated by the whiter colour of the LED that is more prone to causing glare in the first place.

There's a reason halogen bulbs that are of the same bulb design but of a higher wattage are sold "for offroad use only". It's because they put out too much light and cause issues for other drivers, not because of an aiming or beam pattern issue. I have a set of Osram H7 65W bulbs that have the "for fffroad use only" labeling on the package in the high beams in one of my cars with the stock 55W H7 bulbs in the low-beams.

So we'll either be stuck with neutered, legal, LED replacements that won't put out more light than a stock halogen bulb but will have a good beam pattern (which should provide the same upgrade as installing low-resistance wiring to power your halogen lights and bring them up to their actual design output), or, more likely, the same situation we have now with many illegal and potentially hazardous to other road users LED retrofits and poor enforcement until the problem mostly solves itself as older halogen lit vehicles age out of the fleet.
 
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I disagree to a point. If there is a standard for LED bulbs to all match that certain standard, then it only comes down to the housing being different. There is a huge amount of variation in halogen reflector housings in terms of beam pattern (within DOT/E-type standards of course). I would think that the only aspect that would make a poorly built, but still compliant housing using halogen fail with LED, would be the brightness and color.

Yes, different headlamp designs can produce different yet compliant beam patterns with the same bulb type. However, if you replace a bulb with one of the supposedly correct type and it knocks some headlamps out of compliance, the problem is with the bulb.

Example:
Let's say you have two different H7 low beam headlamps, A and B. With a compliant halogen H7 bulb (let's call it #1), headlamp A produces a DOT compliant low beam pattern A. Headlamp B, with the same bulb #1, produces low beam pattern B which is photometrically not identical to A, but is still compliant. Replace halogen bulb #1 with a different (also DOT compliant) halogen bulb #2, and both headlamps still produce compliant beam patterns, all good.
Now say you replace the bulb with LED bulb #3 and find that Headlamp A at least looks okay but in Headlamp B the beam pattern looks way off compared to when halogen bulbs #1 and #2 were in it to the point that it looks visibly wrong (like when you don't insert a bulb correctly into the housing and turn the headlight on). The problem is then with LED bulb #3, not with either headlamp, because they worked fine with the correct halogen bulb in them.
You can also have problematic halogen bulbs, of course. Say you score H7 bulb #4 off Ebay manufactured by Number One Lighting Concern Company in Fookyhou, China. It wrecks the beam patterns in Headlamps A and B. Are you going to blame the headlamps? Of course not. The problem is the bulb!

Headlamp assemblies are engineered around a specific light source, not the other way around. If you have to rotate and shim a bulb to get things looking right (a lot of those Ebayzon LED bulbs have 'adjustable bases' and the like), it is because the bulb is not compliant with the specifications of the light source the headlamp was designed for.

The specifications of the standard bulb types are freely available and there are no secrets (I read some of that spiderman poster's comments in the advrider forum thread referenced earlier and :ROFLMAO:'d at the fact that he claims to be an engineer yet was confused by some simple technical drawings, but anyways...)
The photometric requirements for beam compliance are also freely available - see document TP-108-13 FMVSS 108 Laboratory Test Procedures (this covers not just headlamps, but all regulated exterior lighting and even reflectors).
 
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....... the manufacturer submits their headlights for compliance testing - if they didn't, they'd risk getting in trouble with NHTSA.
That is a common misperception. Lighting equipment is self certified by the manufacturer to be compliant.


....By way of background, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is authorized to issue FMVSSs that set performance requirements for new motor vehicles and items of motor vehicle equipment (see 49 U.S.C. Chapter 301). NHTSA does not provide approval of motor vehicles or motor vehicle equipment, and we do not determine compliance of a vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment outside the context of an actual enforcement proceeding. Instead, manufacturers are required to self-certify that their products conform to all applicable safety standards that are in effect on the date ofmanufacture. FMVSS No. 108 specifies requirements for original and replacement lamps, reflective devices, and associated equipment....
 
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That is a common misperception. Lighting equipment is self certified by the manufacturer to be compliant.

Yes, I should have worded that differently. I didn't mean that they submit headlights to NHTSA for approval, but in my mind I was thinking of the manufacturer submitting their headlight to a third party for compliance testing. They can of course do the compliance testing in-house.
Either way, they are self-certifying (stating) that their headlight is compliant, and can provide the necessary documentation for proof.
 

MrPlow

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There's a flaw in your logic.

- For an LED "bulb" to be an upgrade for a halogen bulb it has to put out more light.
- If it puts out more light then some of that extra light is going to go into to dimmer area above the cut-off which is going to result in extra glare for oncoming drivers. This is exacerbated by the whiter colour of the LED that is more prone to causing glare in the first place.

There's a reason halogen bulbs that are of the same bulb design but of a higher wattage are sold "for offroad use only". It's because they put out too much light and cause issues for other drivers, not because of an aiming or beam pattern issue. I have a set of Osram H7 65W bulbs that have the "for fffroad use only" labeling on the package in the high beams in one of my cars with the stock 55W H7 bulbs in the low-beams.

So we'll either be stuck with neutered, legal, LED replacements that won't put out more light than a stock halogen bulb but will have a good beam pattern (which should provide the same upgrade as installing low-resistance wiring to power your halogen lights and bring them up to their actual design output), or, more likely, the same situation we have now with many illegal and potentially hazardous to other road users LED retrofits and poor enforcement until the problem mostly solves itself as older halogen lit vehicles age out of the fleet.
You are saying what I was getting at. :)

I was stating that the percentage of the light going into other driver's eyes won't be different compared to the output in the hot spots (percentage wise), but as you say, it still ultimately puts more light into the eyes of other drivers because of the lux increase.

Same thing. My fault for not wording it better. :)
 
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